Heaven: Is My Baby There? {Part 2}

Editor’s Note: This is the continuation of a two-part article. Part one can be found here.


[Continued]

My husband brought me the food in bed during my Scriptural search; he also listened to the thoughts that brought me tears of happiness through tears of sorrow. We made new, sink-worthy dishes that would need to be washed, and I spoke as one caught between the sight of two worlds—the world where I lived in mourning and the world I could see ahead.

The pages of Scripture growing to feel thick between my fingers with this beautifully weighty news, I questioned further: How would God—the God who tells us all that we are sinners from birth and the God who makes sure we know that we can only be saved through the gift of faith in Christ—also be the God of the man, David, who was comforted to believe that his child went to heaven?

In considering that all people are sinners, there is a distinction to note in how one becomes a sinner—we are sinners both by nature and by choice. Through the sin of the first man, Adam, the nature of all mankind has been corrupted: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned,” (Romans 15:12). We are all born sinners because, in him, all sinned; and we can know that would have done the same as Adam and Eve in the garden. Then, we are also sinners when we inevitably act based upon that sinful nature in rebellion against God: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). If one—being a sinner by nature —already condemns us to death, what could be the significance of delineating between the two, though both are separately true?

Perhaps, I thought, this makes a difference to God.

I went on to search for others’ answers to this question. First, author and pastor John Piper brought the distinction about becoming a sinner to bear fruit in my mind.[1]

He looks to Romans 1. All people have access to what is called general revelation, which is the evident proof that God exists because of all that He created. Through mankind’s ability to reason, this proof makes all people accountable to God: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made,” (Romans 1:20). Even though all people have access to the knowledge of God through His creation, all people who are without Christ willfully suppress this truth in unrighteousness.[2] Those with a sin nature also become sinners in their decisions to suppress and rebel.

When the sin nature from birth is exercised, guilt is incurred—and there is “no excuse,” (Romans 1:20). John MacArthur writes in Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child, “Scriptures teaches that we are saved by grace, but we are damned by works” (emphasis his).[3] Not all have access to discerning general revelation as proof of God’s existence, for not all have minds that are developed to reason—not all have done the “work” of rebelling against God through suppression of general revelation.

Albert Mohler Jr., President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Daniel L. Akin agree, writing, “we will face the judgment seat of Christ and be judged, not on the basis of original sin, but for our sins committed during our own lifetimes” (emphasis mine).[4] These authors go on to highlight one particular biblical text of Israel’s history in which babies are exempted from judgment precisely because they do not have “knowledge of good or evil”[5]—indicating that these babies do not have enough understanding to deny their Creator God and, thus, are not held accountable.

My daughter’s sin nature, corrupted in Adam, was never exercised; her unborn mind was not capable of comprehending any proof for the existence of God or the decision to sin. She never became a sinner by choice and is not in that category of those without excuse. Therefore, I have come to have this hope that my daughter does have a type of “excuse” that God has indicated matters to Him.

Having this excuse does not mean that she merits heaven. Her original, unexercised sin nature requires the atonement of Christ. At the conclusion of a summary of the development of the doctrine of infant salvation, B.B. Warfield writes, “Infants too are lost members of a lost race, and only those savingly united to Christ are saved.”[6] He continues by listing three conjectures that have arisen in this history of this doctrine: (1) that some suggest only infants of God’s people are saved, (2) that others suggest only infants of God’s people along with some other infants God decides to set His love upon are saved, and finally (3) that still others suggest that all who die in infancy are saved. To this last in the list, Warfield concludes, “It is as legitimate and as logical an answer as any.”[7]

The biblical hope of infant salvation is a cause to rejoice in the sovereign grace of God. Warfield writes, “it can only be through the almighty operation of the Holy Spirit who worketh when and where and how he pleaseth, through whose ineffable grace the Father gathers these little ones to the home he has prepared for them.”[8] Charles Spurgeon also found reason to rejoice in God’s grace he saw in the doctrine of salvation of infants, writing,

Scripture saith but very little, and therefore where Scripture is confessedly scant, it is for no man to determine dogmatically. But I think I speak for the entire body, or certainly with exceedingly few exceptions, and those unknown to me, when I say, we [who hold to Calvinist theology] hold that all infants [who die] are elect of God and are therefore saved, and we look to this as being the means by which Christ shall see some of the travail of His soul to a great degree, and we do sometimes hope that thus the multitude of the saved shall be made to exceed the multitude of the lost.[9]

Seemingly, God places those who have become sinners by nature and not by choice into a unique category of people—of His elect. At the proverbial heavenly gates, no other excuse will merit God’s ears but the kind that Noelle has to “offer.”

Like Little Children

If this excuse merits His ears, I can have the hope that He will withhold His otherwise-promised wrath (Romans 1:18) and transform her through Christ’s righteousness, by grace alone, to merit heaven.

Jesus speaks directly of His special consideration for babies. In the gospel of Matthew,[10] Jesus indicates that “children,” or those who have limited or underdeveloped understanding, have the kind of minds ready to receive Him; those who recognize that their natural perceptions of Him are limited and underdeveloped, with no rights to Him, are those who are actually prime for belief—we all need to become like figurative children before Him.

Then, in Matthew 19:14-15, not only does He invite figurative babies, but literal ones among the surrounding crowd. In Jesus’ day, there was a traditional custom for parents to bring their babies to a spiritual leader for the passing on of a blessing from one generation to the next.[11] When this request comes before Jesus, His disciples think that Jesus, surely, is too busy. But, instead, Jesus welcomes it. In light of Romans 1:20, who would be more “like” little children than infants and those in the womb who literally have the limited understanding He endorses?

Special consideration unto salvation, by His grace alone, is given from God to those who humble themselves to be figuratively like children. And further, I believe that special consideration is given to those of whom the literal description applies—those who are taken to heaven from the womb or in infancy on earth; I have this hope that Jesus receives Noelle to Himself.

Peace Unshakeable

With thoughts of His welcome in mind, my husband and I felt freedom to plan our daughter’s memorial service as those rejoicing in her eternal destination. We clung to the unshakeable hope of His grace for her eternity, feeling resolution. We planned that a small group of immediate family members would gather at her grave—the place where her baby body would meet its final destination on this earth. Similarly, my mind had reached its final, earthly theological destination about her heavenly reality. With hope in view, our putting her body in the ground would not signify the end of what would have been her best days on earth, but the beginning of the best possible “days”—heavenly ones.

At the end of it all, I believe that she was made for Him, is able to know Him and is able to fully partake in the joys of heaven, the joys of her Savior. Following, I believe that she and I have this shared passion—to be living sacrifices to Him and sanctified altars to His saving Name. For we know the sacrifice He has made first.

Though from the moment I learned that I lost my daughter I was broken with a heart as lifeless as stone, His power alone could penetrate. Though my tears fell on my flesh and cemented the loss within me, He could make me moldable again. Though my heart had flown ahead to be with my daughter, He could create a new heart in me.

Even in its lifeless state, cemented and a runaway—He drew praise from this heart. Though I was already His, already saved, He “saved” me again in the hope of her salvation; I relived my own precious salvation through many joyous thoughts of hers.

Thank You, Jesus.

Even now, Lord, make me an altar whose stone cannot help but to praise, for Your blessed sacrifice is ours.

Amen

 

“The Altar”[12] by George Herbert

“A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant rears,
Made of a heart and cemented with tears;
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workman’s tool hath touch’d the same.
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow’r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame
To praise thy name.
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
Oh, let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.”


[1] John Piper, “What Happens to Infants Who Die?” Desiring God, January 23, 2006, accessed April 3, 2017, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-happens-to-infants-who-die.

[2] Romans 1:18

[3] John F. MacArthur, Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 80.

[4] R. Albert Mohler and Daniel L. Akin, “The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants Who Die Go to Heaven?” AlbertMohler.com, July 16, 2009, accessed October 03, 2017, http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/07/16/the-salvation-of-the-little-ones-do-infants-who-die-go-to-heaven/.

[5] Deuteronomy 1:19

[6] B. B. Warfield, The Development of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation, (Kindle Locations 503-504). Primedia eLaunch. Kindle Edition.

[7] Ibid., (Kindle Location 511-512).

[8] Ibid., 515-517.

[9] Charles Spurgeon quoted in John F. MacArthur, Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 75, emphasis added.

[10]Matthew 18:3

[11] James M. Freeman, and Harold J. Chadwick, “Benedictions on Children” in Manners & Customs of the Bible (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998) 445.

[12]George Herbert, “The Altar” in The Complete English Poems (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), 23.


- Lianna

Hope Mom to Noelle

Lianna is wed to Tyler and mother of two girls, one who lives in heaven and one who lives on earth. First and foremost, she is a vessel of mercy belonging to her Lord. She enjoys spending time with family, being a church member, studying, and taking photographs.


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